It takes a lot to grow a successful business, especially in the nonprofit sector, but making and keeping connections is a huge part of growing a community that can better your endeavors. The rest is the stuff we all already know, pitch, visualize, manifest and so on. So, below is my story so far, of how I found the incredible people and partners I work with every day and how you can do the same:
Start your own community.
Always look for genuine, accomplished, passionate individuals who would bring their skills to the table for my company and cause. Strategically select your board and ask yourself: Are they willing to give you their time when you’re seeking advice or contacts? Do they have the experience they can share with you? Do they share the long-term vision? Will they keep you motivated when you’re close to giving up? What are the skills that you may be lacking? What support do you need? Who has something to teach you?
Once you have a board, celebrate them. Connect them. Reach out and update them on your successes and failures. Create your own community. Even if these members are not ready to join your organization, and maybe you’re not ready to hire, allow them to feel connected to a movement they feel passionately about. Keeping people who you admire close is a great way to get honest advice and support when you need it, and it makes a huge difference to know you have amazing people on your team, rooting you on.
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Share once a day.
One of my first projects came from a friend at a coworking space, who mentioned Tag Tech to a friend, who then mentioned Tag Tech to her friend. That would never have happened if I didn’t talk about myself and my work. You have to mention what you do.
I often feel guilty for talking solely about my company when meeting new people — no one wants to feel like they’re monopolizing the conversation — but there is a benefit to talking about your vision and ongoing work. For me, the larger purpose and end goal behind Tag Tech drives me to share, even when I honestly don’t feel like it. It doesn’t have to be a hard sell; it’s really just sharing information and seeing what happens. But, you do need to let people know — even when you don’t really want to.
Sometimes I force myself to tell at least one person a day what I do; sometimes they love it and sometimes they smile and say, “That’s nice.” Either way, you only need a few to love it and share it with the deal makers. You never know who knows whom or which someone is going to help you make the deal you’ve been visualizing and working toward.
Share wine with a stranger.
Ok. I do agree this might not be what you expected from this article but still! It gets quite easier when you connect with people at drinks or at late nights. There a psychological reason behind this is people are vulnerable at these times. You can build a relationship easily, so hop on.
The simple exchange led me to a connection I now cherish, all because I followed up on that business card and short exchange. It’s easy to forget or put off reaching out when you make connections, but you need to do your best to be in touch about every potential opportunity. Even if nothing comes of it, you are creating a reputation for being prompt, responsive and attentive to your work.
Stay honest so you can stay in touch.
It’s like a relationship that drags on and by the end of it, too much is said that you just can’t stay in touch. End it while it’s still good. Don’t wait until you dread talking to people or there is apparent resentment building on either (or both) sides. Stay in touch. When they’re in town or you’re in town, just as when you date someone, you enter their life and if there’s no real reason to leave, stay in it. Someone who has given you a chance may do so again when it’s better for both of you.
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Send the emails that make you smile when you hit “send.”
When I heard of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, I was devastated. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I could do to help in some way. I had just wrapped up a project and I reached back out to the business partner of the tall, handsome gentleman, who I had met during my stint in Hawaii. I was thinking of hotels I could connect within the area to start programs that would help restore jobs and income to local communities and immediately knew who I had to try to reach. Below are a few lines from my email:
“Thought I’d try my luck in reaching Richard Branson as I search for partners and remembered you might know him from XXX. Just asking on a whim, but any ideas on how to connect with him? On the minor off-chance, he doesn’t get back to my email ;)”
I had also written to Branson directly after finding his email address online. Both of the above emails made me smile when I sent them. I wasn’t waiting, I was reaching out to see what could be done. You have to take things into your own hands. I put something out in the universe … twice. I thought it had to happen, and it did. It’s an old saying, but it’s true: You really never know and you’ll never find out if you don’t try. Don’t doubt yourself or your business; if there is a connection that would be a dream to make, reach out. You never know.